I Didn’t Start The Fire……
“People’s interpretations of policy is causing lack of consistency (between States, Territories and organisations) on accessibility to tools for e-practitioners”
[Image by Halan]
Early this week I flew across to Melbourne to participate in a workshop for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s VET Network and Firewall Access Research Project to discuss collaborative national solutions to ‘Computer Network and Firewall Access’ issues that are impeding e-learning implementation with IT support and e-practitioners from around Australia.
The idea of the workshop was to:
- Look at the issues and solutions for computer network access
- Identify common activities and types desired by e-practitioners to provide documentation to support network people to help applications of these in networks. e.g. information on the functionality of each tools such as Web 2.0, virtual classrooms, browser plugins and VOIP
The first activity of the day was for:
- IT support to identify their priorities, constraints, managment requirement
- Practioners to list their desired tools and applications for elearning including why chose, why important and any frustrations with being able to access
As a practitioner I was expected to write each tool/application on a separate piece of paper. For me this required only one sheet because I wanted access to “EVERYTHING” which, in typical practitioner fashion, created excessive work for the IT support on our table who had to write each reason why not on lots of separate pieces of paper.
I have issues with listing desired tools and applications because rapid technology development, especially Web 2.0 applications, means our choices of tools is evolving. For example, a list prepared early 2006 might have excluded Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, Google Talk which we now know have e-learning applications. My concerns are IT support and future e-practitioners may use this list as being “THE LIST.” A document with recommended tools and applications is being prepared for support network people – I hope they include several paragraphs at the beginning of it to highlight the changing and evolving nature of elearning. I would also like where possible the document to link to specific examples of the tools being used.
During the workshop representatives from:
- IT support (Wayne Kufer) provided us with a snapshot of the role of computer networks and firewalls
- AARnet (Guido Aben) discussed broadband access issues and the need for our sector to build our own networks
- E-practioners provided a snapshot of the VET elearning landscape (myself and Michael Coghlan) – I will talk about my own presentation in a different post.
Through out the presentations and activities there was plenty of humorous banter, with individuals expressing their differing view points. Notably opposing view points were often between the practictioners. Those that “advocated the need to use controlled environments, back out of using Web 2.0 tools due to intellectual properties issues and risk of being sued” to those that held the opposite view point. A practitioner did say that issues relating to Web 2.0 use with students needed to be debated more. I managed to hold my tongue but wanted to say issues and concerns of Web 2.0 use is a heavily debated on the blogsphere, make time to reading blog and maybe start voicing your own opinion using a blog.
While there were many at the workshop with a high understanding of the use of the tools and applications, there was many present with minimal exposure to their use. Possibly time should have been taken to showcase the educational use of some of the tools so everyone present had a good understanding of their value.
I also recommend that you read Robyn Jay’s from NSW Learnscope post on this workshop.
Definitely I think that my view points that where possible we should be educating our learners about the appropriate use of technology, rather than preventing access, was contrary to most present. In fact I think that the IT support staff were happy that I am not in their State/Territory. As I said, organisations have to make the decision whether they support e-learning OR NOT – you either want us to INNOVATE or NOT – put too many barriers in the way of people like myself and you might as well forget innovation because it all becomes JUST TOO HARD. Saying that, I agree there needs to be boundaries and the key as was mentioned during the day is “two way dialogue required” – all groups need to understand issues from both points of view 🙂
9 thoughts on “I Didn’t Start The Fire……”
Definitely the voice of an innovator Sue but isn’t it great to hear that both groups actually sat down and listened to each other. Now there’s a first!
> As a practitioner I was expected to write each tool/application on a separate piece of paper. For me this required only one sheet because I wanted access to “EVERYTHING” which, in typical practitioner fashion, created excessive work for the IT support on our table who had to write each reason why not on lots of separate pieces of paper While there were many at the workshop with a high understanding of the use of the tools and applications, there was many present with minimal exposure to their use. Possibly time should have been taken to showcase the educational use of some of the tools so everyone present had a good understanding of their value
[…..As a practitioner I was expected to write each tool/application on a separate piece of paper. For me this required only one sheet because I wanted access to “EVERYTHING” which, in typical practitioner fashion, created excessive work for the IT support on our table who had to write each reason why not on lots of separate pieces of paper …..]
The same now exists in email land. Messages backwards and forwards sometimes title;
Now that IM has been around for a decade you’d think we’d get rid of the “paper” and yet;
[……While there were many at the workshop with a high understanding of the use of the tools and applications, there was many present with minimal exposure to their use. Possibly time should have been taken to showcase the educational use of some of the tools so everyone present had a good understanding of their value ……]
It’s a excruciatingly slow process but at least with re-structures you get new funiture, knife sharpners and cupboards filled with unused PDA’s. You may even take out a little dead wood but IT always remains intact.
The ATB project has highlighted what we already new……the bushfires are approaching and the bandwidth is getting wider.
Then we build new online rooms with the same features and the same issues emerge.
People that know nothing of what we speak of, revert to email and at the end of the day keep it all inside cause it’s imperiative that we protect that information no matter how useless it is anyway.
Man o’ man….and what did this little venture cost the Framework ? Has anyone heard of webcams and synchronous connections or is it about pressing flesh and agreeing to disgaree and networking till you get all the right emails to resolve issues that are in fact another departments issue, different bits of paper and a whole heap more people that have no idea how to use any of it in an educational context.
Great post anyhow’s Sue. You can come and work with us anytime.
Good on you Sue. I love your honesty and being a T&L support staff – I would love you to be in Victoria however, WA needs you also. We are definitely going to enjoy our chats in October… dinner is on me. 😉
Whether organisations want us to innovate OR NOT is immaterial. Our users are innovating and they will continue to do so.
To me the question is “Do they choose for us to be ahead of, in step with or behind our students?”, and then – “If they choose for us to be behind the students, how can we say we are teaching them at all?”
Hi Kathryn. You have hit the nail on the head. I am a Systems Administrator at an Independent K-12 College in NSW, and have seen that the current “old world view” of ICT Management in Education is flawed and very outdated.
I can now see that Education is a 2 way, living thing. Lets allow our teachers to teach in an open wide reaching world, then let our students teach us what they can do when we allow them to engage.
WOW thanks everyone for your great feedback.
Yes, I agree with you Val it was good for both groups to talk and it was good of the Framework to make it happen for the group.
I would like to encourage people to spend the time talking to both educators and IT support from within and outside their organisations. Fortunately with my position at the College, I talk closely with our IT support and am luck to also interact with IT staff from other Colleges and the Department. IT is important for us to listen to both viewpoints and reflect on the issues from the other persons situation.
What can I say Alex – those emails (can I respond to this by email as well :)?). Certainly for me, because I make time to network with IT support, most of what was discuss I already knew. But that was not necessarily the case for the majority in the room. Peter MacFarlane also highlighted that fact that why couldn’t we have done it virtually. MMMMmmm thought the travel would be nice? Which it was but think about it – how many people were in the room? 25? Not sure – which is good but how much better again, in terms of knowledge share and collaboration, could we make it by expanding the number of participants – using Web 2.0 tools.
Sure Michael, you say you want me in Victoria :)…then say WA needs me. Look forward to catching up in October.
Totally agree with you Kathryn, but I think the issue is that perhaps our organisations do not realise how our students are innovating. Maybe we are to be blamed, locked management in a room with IT support – run a series of workshops – maybe then they will gain a better understanding of why?
Andrew, I have responded to your comment on your blog. I really look forward to you sharing your knowledge and thoughts on these issues so us practitioners can gain from networking with some one in IT support.
PS wrote long response and maybe I should have turned my response into another post. And Alex before you tell me off for not breaking it into separate comments for each post – two words – traveling and chocolate challenge – tired!